Ceramic Decorating: Recalls Dominate Regulatory Scene
Various recalls illustrate best and worst practices for ceramic and glass manufacturers.
SGCDpro is following situations involving recalls by Tri-Vista Designs, Michaels stores and Epocha International.
Tri-Vista issued a voluntary recall on June 11. The company recalled a monogram coffee mug decorated with precious metals due to a potential fire hazard should the mug be heated in the microwave. Upon further investigation, SGCDpro Washington Liaison Walt Sanders learned that the recall was related specifically to a labeling issue and not product safety.
The mugs, sold exclusively by Kirkland’s stores, were supposed to carry a warning label that read “Do Not Microwave.” The Chinese manufacturer inadvertently left the word “Not” off of the label, creating the likelihood that consumers would inappropriately place the mug into a microwave oven. The recall involved 10,000 units, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is allowing unsold mugs to be relabeled and sold. The Tri-Vista case is an example of the effectiveness of a company initiating a fast-track product recall.
Conversely, in a recent lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on behalf of CPSC, Michaels stores is accused of withholding important information in its initial report to CPSC regarding defective vases. In February 2010, Michaels submitted a report to CPSC concerning vases offered for sale as far back as 2006; initial product complaints date back to November 2007. CPSC alleges the company ignored its responsibility to “immediately inform” the agency of substantial product hazards. In this case, the glass used to fabricate the vase was as thin as that used in lightbulbs, and was therefore prone to breakage with normal handling.
The vases were imported by Gerson Corp. on behalf of Michaels. The DOJ complaint further alleges that Michaels knew of the hazard as early as September 2008, and that the company’s initial report “contained misleading assertions, which conveyed the false impression that Gerson had imported the vases and that Michaels had acted only as the retailer.” CPSC purports that the alleged misrepresentation allowed Michaels to avoid the negative publicity and legal responsibility related to the recall. The complaint seeks civil penalties and injunctive relief requiring Michaels to institute internal recordkeeping and a formal compliance program to provide timely reporting of product defects in the future.
The lawsuit comes in the wake of increased CPSC enforcement. Such lawsuits are extremely rare. Prior to the Michaels case, CPSC has filed only three lawsuits and one administrative complaint, all seeking mandatory recall remedies under Section 15 of the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA). In recent actions, CPSC has been ramping up its assessment of civil penalties stemming from failures to report potential product defects. Michaels has indicated it will defend the lawsuit vigorously.
Epocha International has recalled a glass whistling kettle. The CPSC reports that the bottom portion of the glass vessel can break when heated and the contents can spill, posing laceration and burn hazards. Consumers should stop using the product immediately and call Epocha or return the product to the retailer. The teapots were sold from January 2012 through May 2015 at: Kitchen Collection, Meijer, Peyton Phoenix, Ross Stores, and Target; and online at amazon.com,
primulaproducts.com, and target.com.
Deco '16 Heads to Baltimore
SGCDpro’s annual Deco conference will be held April 16-18, 2016, at the Sheraton Inner Harbor in Baltimore. The conference will open on Saturday with technical sessions. The annual Ask the Experts regulatory session on Sunday will feature a government panel. Exhibits will be held Sunday afternoon, and the Annual Meeting of Members and new technology session will be held on Monday. The event will conclude with the society’s annual awards luncheon.
Any views or opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not represent those of Ceramic Industry, its staff, Editorial Advisory Board or BNP Media.